Just after my last class left on Thursday afternoon I heard the words “the book fair people are here” and it was “Go Time.” I left the cases in the hall on Thursday and they were waiting patiently for me when I arrived bright and early on Friday. I don’t usually work on Fridays, so the whole day stretched before me with no scheduled classes or duties, just me and my book fair.
Despite my best efforts (i.e. a nice “Request for Volunteers” flier), I was unable to get any helpers for set-up day. I was pretty nervous about this at first, as I have never had to set up an entire book fair with no help at all, but I knew I could do it. I feel like I always have trouble delegating the work in this type of situation, so at least I would only have to worry about telling myself what to do! I will admit that I spun around in a circle for a few minutes trying to figure out where to begin, but I think that my time spent deep in thought actually paid off. At the end of the day, I was proud of the job that I did. In fact, I think it was my best set-up ever! Here is a step-by-step replay of what I did. Maybe this strategy will work well for some of you as well!
Note: I used Scholastic as my vendor for this book fair, so some of this information may not apply if you use a different book fair company.
BEFORE STARTING: Keep the book cases outside of the library, if possible
STEP 1: Move all of the chairs out of the way (I moved mine to the edges of the room and positioned them so that they would be behind the rolling book cases). Move and store anything else that you don’t want in the library during the fair.
STEP 2: Position the tables so that they won’t be in the way when you pull in the cases.
STEP 3: Unload all of the boxes from the tops of the cases (Scholastic sends rolling book cases with boxes stacked on top of each case) and stack them in the library in a centralized location where they will be out of the way (i.e. don’t put them where you plan to put the cases!). I am so lucky to have a fabulous custodian at my school. He was my hero and moved all of the boxes for me! Make friends with your custodian–it pays off!!
STEP 4: Pull the metal cases into the library, position them where you would like them and open them. I like to block my Promethean board and lots of my shelves with them as there are no classes or student check out during book fair.
STEP 5: Position the tables where you would like them to be. Make sure to leave enough room for shoppers to maneuver around the tables. Cover the tables with plastic table cloths, if desired.
STEP 6: Open one box of books at a time and distribute the books to the tables. Don’t worry about making things look nice at this point, this is a sorting step! It might help to look at all of the labels on the boxes before you begin distributing, so that you can plan what type of “theme” each table will have. I ended up with 6 tables: Series Packs, Entertainment, Lego/Entertainment, Science, Hardcover Picture Books/Preschool, Bargains/Gift Items. I also have a Reference category set up on the top of a long book shelf. Place empty boxes under the tables so that they will be easy to find and reload at the end of the fair.
STEP 7: Once all boxes are emptied, take the time to make each table look nice. I used book stands to prop books up for display and covered some of the empty boxes with table clothes to add some levels to a few of the tables. Make sure to mark each table with a sign (Scholastic provides these) to help guide your customers.
STEP 8: If you are selling posters, hang one of each poster as a sample for customers. Number the posters with sticky notes so that customers can tell you that they would like poster #2, etc. Number the posters in the boxes so that you can locate each one easily.
STEP 9: Label each case with a letter (I have 6 cases, labeled A-F). Make the letters big and visible. You can glue each one onto a square of colored paper and laminate them to use again and again. Then label each shelf within the case with a number. I stuck a square of masking tape at the end of each shelf and wrote the number with a marker. This labeling will be very helpful if you plan to allow students to make wish lists when they preview the fair (they can write location codes like A3 next to the titles that they list).
STEP 10: Set up your cashier station. Put the cash box and POS machine (if you are using Scholastic) in a central location. Display pencils, erasers and other school supply items near the cash register so that students can use every last penny.
STEP 11: Set up your teacher wish list display, if you are doing this. I have a little flower pot for each teacher in which they can place individual slips with information (title, author, location, price) about each book they would like to receive. Parents can then take the slips, find the books, and then give the slip to the cashier so that there is no fear of duplicate purchases.
It took me about 5 hours by myself, but it was a productive day. I feel like I usually move those boxes around 10 times before I get them where I want them, but there was very minimal movement with this method. I would have loved to have had a volunteer to hang all of those posters (there were 25 and that was tedious!), but it was doable. All in all, I am happy with my set-up and eager to start the sale on Monday. Wish me luck!